I’ve lived my life a Fast and Furious movie at a time. For that hour and a half or more, I’m free.
The Fast and Furious lineup is a spectacle. From its beginnings as an energy drink filled car guy fantasy, to a guilty pleasure, to a reinvention of itself. The Furious series has a staying power that has proven itself anything but Fast.
That’s largely in part of F&F’s ability to mirror the culture as it changes. The original movie came at a high in the Japanese car modding movement in the US. Fortunes were won in lost in the after market part business. Businesses that traditionally dealt with the muscle car industry had to branch into imports. Companies like NOPI created huge events where thousands of enthusiasts, models, and other vendors would congregate.
As the industry became more Japanese centric and obsessed, drifting became an adopted past time. Fast and Furious followed suit with Tokyo Drift, a side story focused on this new driving craze. The film literally took a clueless American and put him into Japan.
What started as a side story ultimately created a paradigm shift in the series. Previously, a new director had worked on each film. With the success of Tokyo Drift, Justin Lin became the guardian of the franchise. With this new power, he created an overarching story line that continues to this day.
Justin Lin is arguably the best thing to happen to the franchise. Unfortunately he’s moved on to bigger and better things (He’s replaced J.J. Abrahams on Start Trek 3, AND is working on the next Bourne). Mr. Lin has passed the torch to director James Wan.
Mr. Wan is a name I wasn’t familiar with going into Furious 7. Though I don’t look into movies until after I’ve seen them, including most trailers. I’m crazy about spoilers!
I was optimistic though. Mr. Wan is the creative force behind Saw. He has filmed several horror movies. Glancing at his resume, Furious 7 is on the opposite end of his spectrum.
And it is. Furious 7 is nonstop action. One could argue there are more car scenes in this one movie than all the others combined. Jason Statham starts the movie off by absolutely wrecking the hospital where his brother is at. He continues to rampage throughout the movie as one of THREE major baddies. The movie takes you from the US to Albania, to Abu Dabi, to Honduras, and back to L.A. This is an action movie worthy of the name.
Given all that action, there isn’t much time for dialogue. The script feels short and ultimately distilled, to a fault. It seemed as though someone described the franchise over the phone and they made a movie from there. Perhaps the film recognizes this problem itself in a telling scene. The crew rescues a woman who points to each member and calls out their stereotype. It’s disheartening. Nothing is added to character development, and they are actually stripped down in some respects.
Not all is gloom when it comes to the characters. Jason Statham delivers an excellent villain. He’s backed up by Tony Jaa, the Muy Thai expert with is own line of action films. Kurt Russell makes a wonderful appearance as a G-Man. All three were excellent choices to balance out the horror that is Iggy Azalea. Her quick cameo is at Race Wars where she sees Letty and proclaims “Damn gurl where you been is?” or something equally profound.
According to IMDB, Furious 7 had a budget of $190 million. Opening weekend, the film made $150 million and to date has grossed $260 million at the time of this writing. So its hard to say this film wasnt a success. In fact it almost guarantees an 8th entry into the series.
But at what cost? With the loss of Paul Walker as a main character and Justin Lin as a story teller, will these next few movies be forced to relive an aging story line? It remains to be seen.
I was honestly hoping for Furious 7 to be the finale in the series. As a Day One follower of the series ill continue to see them as tradition now dictates. But I have to say, after this last film my optimism is waning. I’m still patiently waiting for one last ride. (and a blu ray box set!)